Guilty plea in West Haverstraw townhouse explosion case

After weeks of negotiations, a Westchester County man pleaded guilty today in Rockland County Court in New City to overseeing the construction work that caused a natural gas leak and explosion that destroyed a West Haverstraw townhouse and nearly killed two volunteer firefighters and two utility company workers.

Fidel Padilla, 53, of 97 Croton Avenue, Cortlandt Manor, and his company, FGC Communications of the same address pleaded guilty before County Court Judge Charles Apotheker.

Padilla pleaded guilty to a felony charge of first-degree reckless endangerment while his company pleaded guilty to the charge of first-degree assault.

Apotheker scheduled sentencing for July 27.


Steve Lieberman

Steve Lieberman joined The Journal News as an editor in February 1984 and became a reporter during the spring of 1986. He has covered police, courts and legal issues for more than a decade, after reporting on county, town, village and state governments and general issues. He received more than a dozen state awards for writing and reporting. Born and raised in The Bronx, he has lived in Rockland since 1988.